May 28 2014

“The Millennial Traveler” or “Times are changing……Options are the answer “

As the masses of traveling baby boomers slow significantly, we embark upon a new generation of traveling titans, the Millennials. And, with time comes change, and with change comes fear, and with fear comes the dark side…sorry, had a Yoda moment. Although change may not lead to the dark side, it does evoke a level of hesitation to adapt to the unknown.  As freighting as change can be sometimes, especially in the digital era we live in, there are some serious upsides to technology and especially when it comes to the day-to-day operations of the hospitality world.

The hotel industry is built and focused on guest engagement, while guaranteeing that your guest has the best experience. “Technology will change that!” “Ill lose that guest interaction!”… Stop. I am happy to say that none of these fears are valid, and the age-old traditions of the hotel will not change, but they will adapt, they have to adapt…. This does not mean losing employees or losing that personal touch, but it does mean allowing for a more mobile and efficient staff, becoming more in tune with the guests and their specific needs, and positioning the hotel to provide a more pleasant stay for the guest, all while simplifying the processes of the employees.

This new generation of travelers, which make up more than 50% of all hotel bookings, should not be feared, but welcomed and accommodated.  Yes, they are the tech generation and sometimes find themselves lost in their mobile devices more than their surroundings. However, I would say businesses, and especially hotels need to use this to their benefit.  Some of the larger brands in the space, (Marriott, Hyatt, Starwood), have already begun to embrace the change and have started implementing more mobility and digital technologies to offer an experience focused towards a more tech driven guest. Embrace the technology and make it work for you. This is a generation that wants to be engaged in all that is around them and then some. However, to access that engagement, you might need to tweet, text, ping, poke, email, or what have you to get their attention.  Utilize mobility to take not only the service standards to a new level, but give ALL your guests the options of how they want to interact with the hotel and staff.

The advancement of mobile hotel software in the hospitality industry is not slowing down, and it will be something that all will need to ultimately utilize. I have always been a firm believer in early adoption, rather then the late scramble, but all will adapt at their own rate. However, with Millennials expected to overtake the Boomer generations in total travel spending, hotel stays, OTA’s, etc., I would say the time is now to start adjusting the operations, branding, and guest interaction models. It is by no means a need for a total overhaul, but looking into all options one can offer allows the hotel to play to all guests. Technology and processes are changing, the best thing for the hotel industry to do is to adjust and give their guest what they have always wanted…options.

By Patrick Williamson, Director Business Development at StayNtouch, Inc.